Happy Heart Cart – Colleen Knudson International Development Director
Every Wednesday afternoon we load up our tri-shaw, which we have transformed into the “Happy Heart Cart” and go room to room in our independent apartments with a Mobile Farmer’s Market! All departments have worked together to make this a successful activity for our residents. The idea originally came from our Director of Nursing, and a CNA accompanies me each week to assist with engaging residents and passing out the produce. Our marketing department designed and decorated the trishaw, and Food Services has been amazing in ordering and stocking our produce items. We sell a variety of fruit, vegetables, grains and coffee for a minimal price. This provides our independent residents with a safe way to purchase fresh produce, minimizing their need to go out into the community at this time. Staff has a really good time with the theme and we always dress in some version of a farmer or gardener. Our RN Apartment Supervisor assisted me with the first time the cart was used and the residents had never seen her in a costume- there were lots of surprised gasps and giggles. It was a real treat for them to see their trusted RN participating in the activity and having fun! As we make our way through the hallways of all four floors, we play our Farmer’s Market playlist from our IPhone, which is created of songs about gardening, the country, flowers and the weather. Residents truly look forward to this activity and are often waiting in their doorways as our cart is getting off of the elevator. Residents are calling out, “We are waiting for you!” “Tell me you have blueberries left!” and “YAY! They’re here!”. Residents are clapping and dancing to the music in their doorways and waving to their neighbors across the hallways. To keep the process as simple as possible, we use a spreadsheet each week to track who purchases what items, and the total is added to their monthly bill. The activity continues to grow, and we typically need to restock the cart after serving just one floor! While the residents in our Independent Apartments do not typically receive structured activity programming, we have felt the need to adjust our offerings during this time. This activity provides socialization and even more importantly, another option- a choice for our residents to safely fulfill their dietary needs during the pandemic. The Mobile Farmer’s Market is strengthening the rapport between residents and staff and bringing joy during a time of uncertainty. I encourage all Activity Professionals to keep creating new and different activities to meet the changing needs of our residents during the pandemic. Our creativity and ingenuity are the perfect combination to combat the hardships that CoVid 19 has brought to our facilities and homes.